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EPA fine leads to Hawaii DLNR acting on illegal cesspools

Aug 08, 2022

Largest land manager in Hawaii will evaluate its 1.3 million acres of property

HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken an enforcement action on Kauai to close an illegal large capacity cesspool (LCC) and collect $105,543 in fines from the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

As part of the settlement, DLNR has agreed to perform an audit to evaluate whether there are LCCs present on any of its 1.3 million acres of property. EPA banned LCCs in 2005 under the Safe Drinking Water Act because they have the potential to pollute water resources.

“The audit by DLNR, the largest land manager in Hawai‘i, represents a significant step toward EPA’s goal of closing all unlawful, pollution-causing large capacity cesspools in Hawai‘i,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “This audit will safeguard public health and protect groundwater by helping DLNR address remaining illegal cesspools.”

On Kauai, EPA’s inspectors found that the cesspool serving restrooms at the Kamokila Hawaiian Village met the criteria of an unlawful LCC. As a result of this enforcement action, DLNR has now properly closed this cesspool.

As required by the settlement agreement, DLNR will also confirm that all its managed or controlled properties are connected to sanitary sewer systems or otherwise operate compliant wastewater systems. This effort furthers EPA’s goal of protecting groundwater and public health by closing LCCs in Hawai‘i while incentivizing disclosure of additional potentially polluting large cesspools.

Since the 2005 LCC ban, more than 3,600 large cesspools in Hawai‘i have been closed; however, approximately 1,400 remain in operation. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawai‘i than in any other state. They collect and release untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater. Groundwater provides 95% of all local water supply in Hawai‘i.

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For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, please visit EPA’s Cesspools in Hawai‘i webpage.

For more information on this agreement visit EPA’s Proposed Settlement webpage.

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Media Contact: Alejandro Diaz, 808-541-2711, [email protected]

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